Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A New Sailing Blog

On January 11th, 2010, Sid and I will leave for our shake-down cruise aboard our new boat, Quest. I have created a new blog for the journey so that we can keep family and friends up on our travels. We hope to update it every couple of days. You can check our progress and leave greetings, comments, and 'advice' as we go.

Here is the link, save it to your favorites!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sailing Trip thru the San Juan Islands - May 5,6 & 7, 2009

Tues, May 5, 2009
It was partly cloudy, breezy and cool. A good day to set out for a 3 day cruise in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington.

About 7:30 am, Sid and I, along with his 11 week old Australian Shepherd puppy, Bo, went down to the marina to do a quick inventory of the boat we were going to take out. It actually belongs to a friend of his, so we had to see what we needed before we could set sail. Our goal was to leave by noon. After a brief inventory of equipment and goods, we had our morning planned. Basically, Sid had to replace some broken shivs on one of the blocks on the mainsail, while I did the grocery shopping and organized boxes and bags to be taken to the boat.

We made our goal and set out from Anacortez (1) just after noon. It was cloudy, with about a 15 knot breeze. Good sailing weather. I was so excited! I just love spending time with Sid, he's so cute and fun. And to sail with him was gonna be fantastic!

We planned to sail to Friday Harbor(2) on the east side of San Juan Island and stay the night there. Sid's sailing instruction started immediately. I was hoping he would actually put up the sails for the first time, and let me watch how it’s done, but no go. He is a firm teacher, and I had to raise the main halyard by myself.

I pulled and pulled as hard as I could, and the sail began going up. Sid was giving commands from behind the wheel. “PULL, PULL, COME ON, PULL!!!” I’m fairly strong for a typical 50 yr old woman, but with the sail only halfway up I just couldn't budge it any further, even with the winch! As I floundered, Sid shouted “PULL” even faster and louder. I was afraid that he was annoyed and frustrated at my weak ability, which made me feel frazzled and panicked. I felt like such a loser!
"Am I gonna blow it less than a mile out of the slip? He's never gonna want to sail with me if I can't pull my weight and help."
Then Sid noticed the sail was hung up in two places. He had me take the wheel while he went forward and fixed it. Then, the darn thing went up fine. Whew! That was touchy.

I must admit, during that initial sail raising, I wondered if I’d be able to sail with Sid, or anyone else for that matter. Having orders shouted at me was a new experience to me. It tended to fluster me and make me panic. But when I saw that he was his same sweet self once the sail was up, I figured it was nothing aimed at me personally, it’s just kind of the skippers job to give fast and firm direction. And Sid is good at being a skipper. So I figured if that’s how sailing goes, well, then I needed to learn NOT to panic and not to take it personal. I was determined to give it my very best and do this. I also learned that I need to wear gloves to pull the lines. My hands are apparently kind of wimpy and were sore after yanking on the lines so hard. But the good news is, future sail adjustments and reefs went much more smoothly. I figured we’d do just fine.

Meanwhile, Bo was snoozing comfortably in the cockpit. Unaware that anything was different in his world. Sid and I were both amazed at how totally at home he was on a rocking, heeling boat. He’d never been on one before, but he looked like he was born for sailing.

We had a little bit of rain off and on that day. We reached Friday Harbor(2) about 5 pm and tied up to a dock for the night. We discovered that the heater below deck didn’t work. So we used the oven for heat, as well as to cook some great ribs for dinner. Bo LOVED the bones!!!

It's amazing how much muscle it takes to sail. Not just hands and arms to pull in the lines, but also your legs, hips and back to keep your balance on a constanly moving and tossing vessel. I don't think I've ever slept so soundly as I did that night. The combination of the rocking boat, and my sore and tired body just knocked me OUT!

Wed, May 6
The next morning, the sails went up smoothly.
(I decided we needed to teach Bo to help!)

We had pretty steady rain, but good wind to fill the sails. We sailed around San Jan Island to the west side in search of orcas. Seeing one in wild is on my bucket list. Sid really wanted to find them for me. He really wanted to help me scratch that off my list. I loved that it was important to him. Despite the rain and clouds, visibility remained good. I watched for spouts, through the binocs. Sid said to also watch for groups of boats which would mean the whales had been sighted. It was a cold wet day, but I had on some great foul weather gear that Sid let me use., so I stayed dry and happy.

The sailing was great and the scenery was breathtaking. But alas, we never did see the orcas. We did, however, see a pod of Dall’s Porpoise. They came up just about 30 feet off the starboard bow! They were headed in the opposite direction we were going, so we didn’t get to watch them very long, but we did get to see them pretty closely! I think we counted 7 or 8 of them. It was cool!

It rained pretty much non-stop all day. Sid worried about how I was fairing. But it was all so beautiful and I LOVED it. At one point, I literally jumped up and down with excitment, and squeeled, “GOD, I LOVE THIS!” He was clearly surprised and pleased. (Apparently he tells everybody how I amazed him with my great attitude in the face of the nasty weather and no heater in the boat.) (I should thank Bob for making me tough.)

That afternoon, we stopped at Rouche Harbor(3) on the north side of San Jan Island to get diesel. That's where I really saw Sid's boating skills at work. He turned the boat, (a big 36 foot sailboat mind you,) 180 degrees in a tiny little docking area. He just kind of spun it in place on it's keel, and then he parallel parked that sucker between two other boats at the fuel dock! (Most people can't do that with a small car!) I was impressed to say the least. The guy is amazing.

It was still raining steadily when I snuck off to take a shower at the marina while we were docked for a while. (snuck? sneaked? hmmm,...) Anyway, the hot water felt absolutely heavenly, even if you do have to pay $3 for a 5 minute shower! Yes, coin operated showers.

Sid and Bo tried to fix the heater while I showered, but had no luck. Oh, well, good thing we had plenty of propane for the oven.

That evening we tied to a mooring buoy at Jones Island(4). The entire island is a state park, so there are no buildings on the island, except for a picnic shelter or two. A remarkably pristine area.

We ate a nice dinner and drank some wine. Then we played a cut-throat game of scrabble.
We were laughing and having such fun! But the stakes were high, and I lost big time! I think he cheats! Every weird word he spelled was actually IN the dictionary! Is it possible to actually MEMORIZE a dictionary??? OK, maybe he's smart too.

Well, that's the first half of the trip.
Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the cruise!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The second half of my San Juan Sailing Trip

The evening of Wed. May 6th, we'd tied to a mooring buoy at Jones Island for the night.

Thur, May 7th, 2009
Jones Island State Park.

The morning dawned partly cloudy and fairly calm.
Before breakfast, we went for walk around the island. It was simply gorgeous!

There was deep green forest, with paths cut through for hiking. Every fallen log was covered with a thick, lush carpet of moss. Ferns covered the ground, and were growing in the trees. We saw several deer that were amazingly tame because there are no predators on the island.

Bo was soooo happy to really get to run and play and stretch his little legs for a while. I was afraid that he'd try to chase the deer. That herding instinct is so strong in Aussies right from birth. But he was so short that the brush hid them from his view. He never saw a single one.

After our walk, Sid put a couple of bagels in the oven for breakfast while I made coffee. I was looking forward to sitting in the cockpit and leisurely having coffee and bagles with him.

But then,…

Before we even got the bagles out of the oven, Sid suddenly jumped up and cast off the mooring lines. He called me up from below to take the wheel, and he went out on deck and began releasing the sails.

The sudden departure and decision to immediately get the sails up totally caught me off guard. When he told me to grab the mail halyard and start pulling, I was unprepared. I didn’t have gloves on, so I couldn’t pull very hard on the lines, (my hands were still sore). Plus I was trying to steer WHILE I was pulling. It frustrated Sid that I was not pulling the halyard fast enough. He began giving his orders from up at the mast, “PULL! Come on, PULL, Linda! PULL!”

Ok, .. again it flustered me and once again I floundered on my task. As the sail went up, the boat heeled over, and coffee cups, clothing bags and all the other loose 'things' down below deck went everywhere. After several times of raising and adjusting sails successfully as a team, I felt right back where I’d started on the first day. (snarl...)

When we finally got the sails up, Sid returned to the cockpit and silently took the wheel. My annoyance evident, I went down the companionway to the galley and picked up all the stuff that had slid across the boat when we heeled. Then I took the bagles out of the oven. They were burned. (sigh,…) Still wondering what lit the fire under Sid’s butt to leave anchor so quickly, I went up and stood in the companionway and just looked at him standing behind the wheel. He shifted his weight uncomfortably and returned my gaze.

I felt a strong need to establish some level of respect and cooperation between us. If we're going to sail together, we've got to be a team. So I said, “What we had here this morning was a failure to communicate.”

I told him I was unprepared and unaware of his intentions to set sail, so I did not have my gloves on, bagles were still in the oven, and things were not stowed properly below. I asked, “Isn’t it the skipper’s job to prepare and inform the crew of his intentions BEFORE they happen?”

"Uh,... yeah,.... it is. I'm sorry." He agreed that he had not given me warning, and admitted that he’d just made a quick decision because good winds had suddenly come up in the right direction. He felt bad for frustrating me again, but I felt that now some ground rules had been set. After a hug or two, all was forgiven quickly and we sailed on, drinking coffee and laughing about eating burned bagles. As we sailed back to Anacortes, the weather continued to improve.

Sid is not only a great sailor and teacher, but he's also one hell of a tour guide. He was wonderful at pointing out all the different islands, markers, buoys and passages. The sailing lessons never stoppped, but they were always peppered with interesting facts about the history and geology of the San Juan area. I was greatful for his willingness to share his knowledge. As he taught me to watch for red and green channel markers and what the numbers on them meant, he also told me about the settlements and uses of different islands that we passed. One of my favorites that he showed me was Yellow Island. In the 1940's, a husband and wife bought the island and built their home, barn and boat house completely out of drift wood. The wife planted wild flowers all over the entire island, which have multiplied and flourished over the years. The island now belongs to the Nature Conservancy and they maintain the driftwood buildings and give tours of the wild flower gardens. He really taught me so much. Did you know there are over 100 islands in the San Juan archipeligo? Wow!

As we approached the marina at Anacortes, the weather really cleared up and it actually became sunny, warm and beautiful. It was nice to take off our jackets. It also made unloading and securing the boat much more pleasant.

We finished the day back at Sid’s house, relaxing on his porch swing and drinking wine while we watched the world go by. Life is good.

The next morning, on the way to the airport, he showed me Anacortes from a tall peak above town. What a magnificent place. I can't wait to go back!

It's been almost 2 years,...

I've decided to put a new set of sails on my blogging, and revive "Evolution of a Sailor." (at least for a while.)

Last January, I met this cute sailor named Sid, who lives up in Anacortes, north of Seattle. He is a Certified Captain through the Coast Guard and also teaches sailing lessons in the area up there. He is looking for a long term sailing partner, and I also want to sail, so.... I went up to visit him a couple of times in February, to check our compatablily level. Fortunately, we liked each other.

I've recently returned from a third visit, during which we finally got to go out on the boat and he gave me some REAL sailing lessons! It was a GREAT experience! I am sooo hooked! I hope to do it at least one more time before the summer is over. (Ok, maybe twice! - grin -)

I want to remember the details of the experience, and the best way to do that is by writing about it.

I hope to have my story up by tomorrow or Friday.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Evolution on Hold

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my time on Evolution has been suspended. (He got custody of the boat.) I will not be posting to this blog for a while, until my sailing resumes.
Please visit my other blog site "Hoootyhoot".

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Sherman Tank of Sewing Machines

I’m doing a lot of sewing for Evolution. All the cushions need replaced, and I need to make some heavy duty, durable covers for the engine and some of the hardware. A few equipment bags for storage would be nice to.

Working with canvas and other heavy fabrics, can be a nightmare. After breaking several needles and smoking the motor on the ol’ Singer, trying to sew through four layers of canvas, one might be tempted to think it can’t be done and just give up.

Enter the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1, the sherman tank of sewing machines. This is the coolest machine I have ever owned, and I’ve been sewing since I was 7 years old. (And NO! We won’t say how long that’s been!) Granted, it can’t embroider a tulip design on my tea towels, but it can sew through eight layers of heavy canvas, and then with a quick needle change, I can whip up a little satin evening dress!

My Sailrite is small, portable, and it's all metal, unlike most sewing machines that are plastic. It’s meant to be used in the damp, rugged, rough and tumble environment of a sailboat. It has a very heavy duty case to protect it. This baby could fly across the cabin during heavy seas, and not sustain a scratch. It might go right on through the hull,… but it wouldn’t get hurt in the process! Come to think of it, it could probably even double as an anchor!

The best part of my machine is,… for a fancy plastic machine that could do this, I’d have spent well over $1,000, and it would still burn out and/or break after a year or two of that treatment, but my Sailrite was under $800 and will travel the world with us, fixing sails and repairing cushions for many, many years!

P.S. I also do repairs and custom sewing. Got a project that needs done? Just whistle!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I joined a sailing club!

I just joined the Oregon Women’s Sailing Association, (OWSA). Being new to the Portland area, and new to sailing, I thought it might be a great group to check out. I figured I could learn more about sailing, meet new people and maybe make some “girl friends” to do the lunch or drinks kind of things. You know, kill 3 birds with one stone!

Yesterday was OWSA’s summer picnic at Tamahawk Bay Marina from 4pm to 9pm. I was flying in from out of town, and my plane landed at 5:10pm, so Bob took me straight to the marina from the airport. He made himself scarce, thinking it was women only, but it looked like most of the women had their husbands with them.

I’m not sure the size of their membership, but there appeared to be a good turnout. As I met one or two women, they would take me around and introduce me to more, who then introduced me to even more! What a great group! I met a woman who has her boat moored just a few slips down from Evolution! Wow, neighbors! I also signed up to help with “Sail for the Cure”. (See the pink ribbon on the ‘port’ side of my blog here. Feel free to click on the link and make a donation!) :o)

‘Wednesday Night Sail’
Once a week, OWSA has a ‘Wednesday Night Sail’, and I am really eager to try it! Basically, they just all get together and take several boats out for an evening cruise on the river. It’s a great opportunity for me to crew on someone else’s boat, and to watch other experienced sailors in action. Maybe I can even get over my fear of heeling! I’m going to have to be super brave, because I’d be REALLY embarrassed if I screamed and peed my pants the first time the boat heeled over a little. I can see it now, these poor women trying to talk me, (in my soggy pants), down off the mast. I’m willing to bet I’d be asked to forgo any future participation in the Wednesday Night Sails! Or worse yet, maybe they’d use me as punishment. “Yea, Sue forgot to bring her famous jello salad last week, so next week,… she has to have Kay on her boat!” Hmm,… yeah, I think I’d better take a few precautions; maybe a little nip o’ rum and a nice absorbent ‘Depends’ and I should be good to go!

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